Community Power Building


Community Power Building Requires a Leap of Faith

Guest Post: Jason Lacsamana, Director, Programs and Partnerships


Building community capacity is second nature for the St. Joseph Fund. While the work may not be evident to other funders or others in healthcare, it has been the core of our work for decades. Forty years ago, the history of service revolved around grants deployed into the community to expand services and care. Service-focused grants are necessary to respond to urgent needs within communities. However, for the 25 years I’ve been in this field, I’ve seen the exact needs and issues continue – more magnified – and the requests don’t seem to end.


There’s been increased conversation around social determinants of health (SDOH), upstream work, and systems transformation. These are more than just trendy buzzwords. Understanding SDOH (and now Structural Determinants) and doing the upstream work to transform systems is how we build capacity and increase community power. A lot of need comes from within communities on the margins that don’t hold any power. Impacts on health, jobs, health, education, and safety can be sustainably positively affected through community power development.


Community power building for those on the margins requires a leap of faith. Many on all sides of the work may not see “success” within a traditional 1-3 year grant cycle, but this is where transformation begins.


Funding has changed over the years. We’ve seen how healing and resilience are intertwined in all our initiatives and that power-building is attainable for all communities outside the margins. We have paved the road ahead, and I look forward to more funders joining us to disrupt and challenge systems and bring wholeness to our communities.


I invite you to watch highlights from “Celebrating Community Power,” an event we held last year to honor our partners’ successes. The video is a great look at how SJF supports our partners in their work to build communities that are lively, hopeful, and just.